Monday, March 4, 2013

Play Guessing Games with Kids

Play Guessing Games with Kids

by Susan Stephenson

A few weeks ago, I reviewed The Carnival of the Animals, a wonderful children's picture book that's also a guessing game. It made me think about guessing games and how they're a great way to sneak some learning into a whole heap of fun. Here's a list and description of some I like:

Guess how many. Fill a clear container with objects like jelly beans or LEGO blocks. Kids must guess how many there are, then count. Start with a few, and increase over time. Have kids do this often do develop spatial awareness.

Guess how much. This is great to incorporate into water play with kids. Have them guess how many small containers of water it will take to fill a larger one. They prove it by pouring. Or have kids guess the weight of objects and then weigh them. Or have kids raise their hands when they think ten seconds/1 minute/two minutes has gone by.

Guess my name. This is like the drama activity "Hot Seat". Have one person in the middle of a circle who thinks of a character from books, movies or TV. Others ask questions e.g. "Are you an animal?" which may only be answered with yes/no. Questions should help narrow the search down. Another version involves head bands (or sticky labels on the person's back) with famous characters written on them. As children mill around, they ask questions to try to determine the character's name.

A guessing bag. Like my story box post, only this time, kids need to guess what the object is inside a bag.

Guess what I'm thinking. Make it specific - guess what fairy tale character or spelling list word I'm thinking of. Kids ask questions to help narrow it down. Does the word have two syllables? Is the character poor? Option: Person who's "in" may only give yes/no answers.

Charades. This is a wonderful guessing game. Someone acts out/mimes a word and others guess that word. Words can be broken into syllables and then each syllable is acted out. Here are some online rules.

Guess the picture. In this simpler version of Pictionary, have kids draw something for a friend to guess. For a change, have kids "draw" letters of the alphabet with a finger on each others' backs.

Guess the taste. Have blindfolded kids guess what food they're tasting. (Be careful with allergies.)

Guess whose voice. Have kids close their eyes and teacher indicates one child who says a given phrase. Kids must determine who spoke.

Guess what's different. Have one child go outside and change something about their appearance. When the child returns, kids must guess what the change is.

Guess the animal. Give children a rhyming word and have them guess the animal. "I rhyme with log. I am a …"

Guess the number. Give kids clues about a number. "Some people think I'm unlucky." "I am more than eight but less than twenty." "I am made up of one ten and three ones." "I am a factor of 25."

Guess the questions. Give students an answer eg 6. Have them generate a list of questions that 6 might be the answer to: 8-2=? How many legs does an insect have? 2x3=?

Here's a couple of online guessing games for kids to try:
Animal game
Boowa and Kwala's Guessing Game 

Guessing games help kids to think critically, solve problems, develop skills in numeracy and literacy and generate ideas. If you have a great guessing game to suggest, please leave a description/link in comments.


  1. My daughter loves to play Bigger Then A Bread Box and I Spy With My Little Eye. She has played these games since she was quite small and especially loves to play Eye Spy while waiting in the car for with either my husband or I when the other one is shopping.

  2. @Aileen Stewart How could I forget Eye Spy! Probably the most famous guessing game of all - thank you Aileen.

    With "bigger than a bread box", is that like 20 questions, where you ask questions to narrow down a mystery object?

  3. Oh, I love all of these! I'm going to have to go check out that book - thanks so much for sharing :)

  4. @Erika ~ Prey Species @ Carnival of the Animals is such a fun book to share with kids - I hope you find it!

  5. Love all of these! Especially the Guess how much pouring game. We play our "What's in the Cat's Hat" all the time. It has fun action cards to help very young children come up with questions to figure out what is in the Hat. We also build a Lego box and put an toy animal figure in it. You put your arm in the box and feel the animal to guess what it is. Thanks for sharing!

  6. @Janine LaTulippe Love the sound of both those! Thanks for adding your games!


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